A federal appeals court on Friday gave the pro-life community another victory when it said a Tennessee 48-hour waiting period law could go into effect while it is being challenged in court.
The law, passed in 2015, requires women who want an abortion to receive counseling 48 hours before the procedure.
Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups filed the lawsuit.
A U.S. district judge struck down the law as unconstitutional last fall, and a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the lower court’s decision.
But on Friday, the full (“en banc”) Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction on the law and said it could be enforced while the state of Tennessee appeals the lower court’s ruling. The two-page order included no discussion of the merits of the case, although the court did say six of the 16 judges would not have allowed the law to be enforced.
Earlier this month, the Sixth Circuit issued a ruling allowing Ohio to enforce a law banning Down syndrome abortions.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III applauded the Sixth Circuit for its decision in the 48-hour waiting period case. The U.S. Supreme Court, Slatery asserted, likely would side with the state.
“We are pleased that the full Sixth Circuit has recognized that Tennessee’s law, requiring a 48-hour waiting period for abortions, is likely constitutional and can be enforced while the appeal proceeds,” Slatery said. “The Supreme Court has recognized the authority of State governments to provide women considering abortion the opportunity to receive important information before a life-changing decision is made. Tennesseans, through their elected representatives, voted for this law and this Office will defend it.”
In a dissent to last year’s panel ruling, Sixth Circuit Judge Amul Thapar argued that the Supreme Court, in its Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision, said waiting periods are constitutional.
“Indeed, both the Supreme Court and our court have upheld such laws,” Thapar wrote.
Photo courtesy: Pixabay
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.